Pit­lochry takes an ex­cel­lent swipe at The Rul­ing Classes

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Peter Cargill

Death by auto-erotic as­phyx­i­a­tion and two mur­ders – iron­i­cally, what a laugh we had.

Peter Barnes’s swipe at the rul­ing classes is satire de­liv­ered with the force of a wreck­ing ball.

Its im­pact may now be some­what di­luted from its in­cep­tion al­most 50 years ago and the irony is that those who would find it the fun­ni­est can ill af­ford the price of a the­atre ticket.

In­deed the whole pro­duc­tion is clapped in ironies.

When the 13th Earl of Gur­ney’s erotic fan­tasies go fa­tally wrong while wear­ing a tutu, his es­tate is left to his schiz­o­phrenic son, Jack, much to the hor­ror of his not-quite-so close-but-money-grab­bing rel­a­tives.

De­spite his as­ser­tion that he is Je­sus Christ (“just call me JC”), all at­tempts to prove his mad­ness and get him stripped of his in­her­i­tance are doomed to fail­ure and the fi­nal irony is that what now passes for san­ity is his evo­lu­tion into Jack the Rip­per.

This is a class war mul­ti­plied by 10, laced with oo­dles of hu­mour and dark­ness, and, while to­tally bonkers, it nev­er­the­less, pro­vides Pit­lochry’s not-in­con­sid­er­able act­ing tal­ent the chance to dis­play the many di­verse gen­res in this play.

All at the same time, it is shock­ing, far­ci­cal, dra­matic and there is even a fab mu­si­cal num­ber – think of Shake­speare mixed with the ab­surd­ness of Fey­deau with a sprin­kling of Alan Ben­nett and pan­tomime.

Barnes does cre­ate some mem­o­rable char­ac­ters, and in John Durnin’s pro­duc­tion, Jack Whar­rier to­tally dom­i­nates in the marathon role of Jack – equally hi­lar­i­ous and sin­is­ter – while Ian Marr as the al­co­holic Marx­ist but­ler is a joy.

It’s an en­er­getic team with ex­cel­lent con­tri­bu­tions from Dou­gal Lee as Sir Charles, the schem­ing un­cle, Joanna Lu­cas as the blonde strip­per (Charles’s lover) set up to marry Jack, Mark Faith as the ec­cen­tric bishop, Ewan Petrie as Charles’s son who takes snob­bery to new heights, and Alan Steele in a va­ri­ety of guises.

And let’s not for­get Re­becca Elise and Mar­garet Preece as the suit­ably-quiffed Tory ladies, whose ren­di­tion of Dem Bones with Jack will go down in Pit­lochry The­atre folk­lore.

Pit­lochry favourite Adrian Rees de­signed the set dom­i­nated by walls of por­traits and a dou­ble stair­case which, an­other irony, leads up to nowhere then down again.

There are now five pro­duc­tions up and run­ning at Pit­lochry and The Rul­ing Class con­tin­ues on var­i­ous dates un­til Oc­to­ber 14.

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